Already accumulating more than 16,000 passing yards and nearly 3,000 rushing yards during his four-plus years in the NFL, Cam Newton is a one-of-a-kind player.
"If you had to draw up a dual threat quarterback from scratch, you couldn't pick a better mode. A guy that's 6-5, 250 [pounds]," DeAngelo Hall said earlier this week of Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton. "He's able to take a little more hits than some other guys but could also throw the ball. He presents a lot of challenges."
While the top quarterbacks in the National Football League's history are best known for their ability to operate an offense through the air, Newton, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, is simply different.
Yes, he threw for more than 4,000 yards as a rookie and, yes, he has amassed 97 passing touchdowns in 71 career games, but Newton's ability to not only tuck it and run, but the way in which he does it at the quarterback position, is special.
"He can fall down and get two yards," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "He's something to deal with now. He's playing — you know you can make a case for him for MVP right now. He's playing like it. He's gotten their team in great positions to win at the end of games. He's making plays in key situations — goal line, third down, like you say — so he's playing at a very high level."
Newton recently surpassed Michael Vick on the career quartebacks rushing touchdowns list, and while the former Virginia Tech star made a name for himself in the NFL with shifty moves and game-breaking speed, Newton, the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, is more reminiscent of a power back.
"A lot of times people just think, 'Oh well those are on zone reads, those are on designed runs,'" said Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry, speaking to the fact Newton has 366 rushing yards on the season. "A lot of them are but he gets a lot of his yards just taking off and running. So discipline with the pass rush, whether we're rushing three, four, five or six, it doesn't matter. But you've got to be rush lane - when I say rush, pass rush lane – you've got to keep the integrity, there's no doubt."
Newton, of course, isn't the only threat on the ground when it comes to a Panthers team that likes to funnel their production through the rushing attack.
Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert both can have their numbers called at any time and both can put a lick on a defense.
"You just can't let them have a balanced offense," Ricky Jean Francois said. "Cam Newton is their second leading rusher. You already know they can run multiple ways, but we've got to make sure we turn this team into a one-dimensional team and let Cam Newton sit back there and play quarterback."
And when he does play quarterback from the pocket, Newton has the ability to throw "from different angles."
"He's able to do that cause he's so big and strong so he can throw it …from any angle, side arm, off one foot, jumping in the air, somebody hanging on him, sort of like Ben Roethlisberger," Hall said. "I mean, we've got to get a lot of guys to him, we got to stay in our coverage. He's going to try to extend some plays with his feet, still make some plays down field. Like I said, it's definitely a tough challenge for us, little different then we have had in the past couple weeks but a challenge in itself without a doubt."